Heartbroken mum tells of grief after husband killed by dangerous driver

November 3, 2020

A heartbroken mother-of-three has told how she visited her husband’s grave after he was killed by a dangerous driver before she went and gave birth to their third child.

Mags Mulhall gave a heartbreaking victim impact statement as her late husband’s killer was sentenced at Letterkenny Circuit Court in Co Donegal.

Father-of-three Aaron McColgan pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of John ‘Rustard’ McLaughlin at Strandhead, Malin on the evening of February 20th, 2017.

The then 25-year-old had visited a number of pubs before he crashed into 38-year-old Mr McLaughlin just after 6pm killing him instantly at the scene.

Mr McLaughlin, an accountant and E+I Engineering, had been on his way to train the Under 16 GAA team at Malin GAA Club where he was a lifelong and much-loved member.

McColgan, of Culkeeny, Malin, left the scene of the crash and was spotted by Gardai arriving at the scene and arrested.

He failed a roadside breath test and was then shown to be over the limit when both a breath and urine sample were taken at Buncrana Garda station.

Garda forensic examiners revealed that McColgan’s Audi A4 car, which he had bought in Northern Ireland just weeks before, was driving on the wrong side of a continuous white line.

The late John McLaughlin. Pic by Northwest Newspix.

Garda Gerard McCauley’s evidence revealed that the road was governed by an 80kph speed limit but that they could not tell how fast the cars were traveling but the Audi car was traveling much faster than Mr McLaughlin’s Kia Rio.

Such was the impact that McColgan’s car traveled 65 metres while Mr McLaughlin’s car was thrown backwards and hit a tree.

Passers-by rushed to try and help Mr McLaughlin but despite a faint pulse and some small breaths, he passed away a short time later.

The court was hushed into silence when Mr McLaughlin’s widow, Margaret Mulhall gave her victim impact statement with McColgan sitting just feet away with his head bowed.

Earlier Mr McLaughlin’s sister Sue gave a victim impact statement on behalf of his parents Noel and Rosaleen and extended family.

She told how John was the most obliging of people whose loss is simply immeasurable.

She told of his love of the GAA and climbing mountains and hills and how, despite moving away from home when he got married, would always return to help out on the family farm.

She added of her parents’ pain “No parent should have to bury a child and we have to live with that pain every day.”

Mr McLaughlin’s widow Mags spoke of the grief and unimaginable circumstances of having to give birth alone to the couple’s third child.

She spoke of how John was simply a “good citizen” who helped anyone he could.

She told of going to visit her beloved husband’s graveside before the birth of their third child when he should have been in the hospital with her.

Throughout her heartwrenching statement, Ms Mulhall consistently said “If only Aaron McColgan had behaved differently.”

The first time her youngest child saw his daddy’s graveside was when he was being christened.

She said she has no answers for her children when they ask her if their daddy is still working in heaven, can they go to visit daddy in heaven, why can’t daddy wake up and why did daddy crash?

She said that as a single parent now making all the parental decisions is not easy adding “Helping to make father’s day cards to place on his grave was not supposed to be part of our adventure. The children long for their daddy every day, knowbody else can ever be their daddy, they had so little time with him. If only Aaron McColagn had behaved differently. Nobody has the same unconditional love as you have for your husband. I miss his company, his intimacy and affection. I miss his honesty and integrity. You could trust him with your life.”

She added that the three years it has taken for the case to come before the court has drained both her body and soul.

“Our sentences were determined at 6pm on February 20th, 2017. We will live without John forever, that our lifelong sentence,” she added.

The court was told that McColgan has a number of previous convictions including intoxication, drunk while in charge of a vehicle, obstruction of a police officer, threatening and abusive behaviour and having no insurance.

Barrister for McColgan, Mr Damien Colgan said his client has expressed his remorse and has not come to Garda attention since the incident in 2017.

Judge John Aylmer said he would need time to consider the sentence and adjourned the case until later in the week.